London Eller (the smiling face that you see above) was just one of the many happy exhibitors at the 2018 Alabama Arabian Horse Association show in Tunica, Mississippi. I came home from the show with so many interesting stories! So many ideas for my blog! But this post is about the show itself, known as The Mississippi Riverboat Parlay! This was the second year that the Alabama Arabian Horse Association has hosted this show in Tunica and the second year that I -as part of Jeff Jason Photography-has been a part of the show. The 2017 version of the show was terrific and the 2018 was even better!
The fact that the Alabama club has christened their show with such a jazzy name, gives you a clue about the personality of the show and the people that drive it. Honestly, while "Riverboat Parlay" rolls off the tongue, I wasn't exactly sure what a "parlay" is? First impression-roguish pirates with with a swagger and awesome fashion sense! The curious part of me would't leave it alone, so I looked up the definition of "parlay", and I was surprised by what I found.
1. noun- a cumulative series of bets in which winnings accruing from each transaction are used as a stake for a further bet.
2. verb- to use (one's money, talent, or other assets) to achieve a desired objective, as spectacular wealth or success
I smiled when I read the definition,because both definitions make total and complete sense when applied to this show. Not because Tunica is home to many casinos--when you're not at the horse show you can roll the dice, play the slot machines or amuse yourself with all manner of games of chance. However, parlay as defined as willing to take a risk to achieve a desired objective describes exactly what this show is all about. AHAA is essentially betting that their willingness to dream big and to try new ideas will pay off and they can create a new and exciting Arabian horse show destination.
What makes this Arabian show a bit different from others? What is this show offering that is making exhibitors happy? Aside from the fact that the aforementioned casino's provide extremely reasonably priced hotel rooms with excellent amenities, here's my list of some of the aspects of the show that make it shine!
The Paul Battle Jr. Arena & Exposition Center is a great facility! The number of stalls and the quality of the arena and schooling areas assure that this show will easily accommodate more exhibitors as it grows in popularity. But the facility alone is not what’s driving the show's rise in popularity—the credit for that goes 100% to the fantastic friendly atmosphere that the show management and staff have created.
The show is actually two shows, qualifying competitors for four regions! Judges for the 2018 AHAA show in Tunica! Jack Thomas, Jim Lowe, John Rannenberg and Johnny Ryan, judged for Regions 9, 15,14 and 12 respectively.
Terrific awards! Take a look at the win photos at the official photographer's website (www.jeffjanson.com) and you'll see gorgeous ribbons and garlands. The winners in the Region 12 qualifier got the extra special garlands designed by Linda Mefford! Check out her Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/AlfaMareInc/
Equine photography is an art! A great photographer will make the horses look terrific and your show high class! As a rule you have to be at a Regional or National show to get a Jeff Janson photo, so the Tunica show is an exception to the rule! However, if you missed this chance at Tunica, you can always book Jeff and Mary for a farm shoot! Just go to www.jeffjanson.com to get their contact info! They LOVE to travel!
Sponsors featured on the electronic marquee over center ring!
An amazingly high quality show program with options for color ads in the covers and spreads in the middle!
The fact is, this show is striving to be more than a competition. As AHAA President, Charles Moseley says, “we want to create an event that’s fun to bring the whole family to.” There are several events at the show grounds that show the hospitality this club is known for. On the Tuesday before the show starts there’s a Pizza & Draft party, Friday night was the DiceToss and Saturday a Margarita Party and Bar B Que!
But the highlight of the social activities this year had to be the free concert at the host hotel, the Horseshoe Casino! The food was described as “heavy hors d’oeuvres”—which translated into all you can eat coconut shrimp, stuffed mushrooms, chicken tenders, chicken wings and meatballs! This party, and the following Gatlin Brothers concert, was indeed free to all exhibitors, trainers, owners and show staff and it was a great time. The Gold Sponsors had an added perk of being invited backstage to meet the band!
These days, when there are a lot of decisions that can factor into why an exhibitor might chose one show over another, I think it's easy to see why the Alabama Arabian show in Tunica is becoming a great option and the place to be in March 2019!
For more coverage on the show, check out the article in the upcoming issue of National Horseman Arabian and keep an eye out for my blogs about the really cool people that were in Tunica!